Demolition begins for new downtown YMCA

03/29/2011 12:00 AM

03/29/2011 6:30 AM

With fundraising off to a healthy start, demolition began Monday for the new downtown YMCA. Fundraising has brought in $6.3 million since the first of the year, said Steve Clark, chairman of the Every Kid Capital Campaign. The project received a boost this week with a $1.4 million grant from the Tulsa-based Mabee Foundation.

The remainder of the funds for the $40 million project — which includes the $23 million Central Family YMCA downtown — will come through income from Wichita's YMCAs and grants.

"We are a not-for-profit, so all of those funds are poured back into the program," Clark said.

Wichita Y officials also announced the kickoff of other parts of the project, including outdoor and indoor sport facilities on the east side of the city, similar to the Farha complex at the South YMCA, 3405 S. Meridian.

Those new athletic centers, an expansion of the Northwest Y, at 13838 W. 21st St. North, and improvements at the South Y and Camp Hyde in Viola will total about $17 million.

But Monday's focus remained on rebuilding the downtown Y at its current home, 402 N. Market, where it has stood since 1959.

"We have world-class YMCA facilities in Wichita that you don't see in other communities," said Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.

Construction crews knocked down the first wall on nearby buildings that will be demolished to make way for the 110,000-square-foot building.

"Downtown is actually the living room for the city of Wichita," Mayor Carl Brewer said. "This is really going to enhance our living room."

The existing downtown YMCA will remain open while the new facility is being built.

The new facility is expected to serve 30,000 people throughout the area. The Greater Wichita YMCA serves more than 250,000 kids and adults through child care, camping, urban outreach programs and healthy lifestyles activities.

There are more than 103,000 people within a three-mile radius of the new downtown Y, a third of whom have household incomes of less than $25,000 a year, Y officials said. One in five are children or youth, and another one in 10 are seniors.

"These are all groups at risk for health problems addressed through programs at the Y," Clark said.

Architect Sam Frey said Central Family YMCA would meet standards for LEED Certification as an environmentally friendly building. The certification was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Frey said the building's many windows, for example, are designed to use daylight efficiently to cut energy costs.

"We're trying to achieve a higher level of certification as we proceed," Frey said. "We're trying to go past the minimum standards."

The downtown facility is projected to open sometime in 2012.

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